Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on September 21, 2011
Andrea, whom we met whilst aboard the Grande Francia continues his journey around the World (do look for two intrepid travellers in the video…)
It seems like a long time since we were aboard the ship, though we’re still talking about it – people we meet are always amazed when they hear about our leaving London aboard a cargo ship and our voyage to South America, following the coasts of France, Spain, Africa and Brazil – an awesome experience that still lives long in our memories. But alas, all good things come to an end and we’ve had a truly awesome time, met some wonderful people and experienced many highs and great times.
The whole adventure had been really special and we both feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to see the World – pretty much on our own terms, having no plan whatsoever, only to arrive in Buenos Aires and go with the flow. Argentina was superb, we wish we’d met our tango instructor sooner though know we’ll take it up when we eventually settle back in the UK. The friends we met whilst learning Spanish will remain good friends – some of whom are already planning to visit London later this year.
Machu Picchu was everything and more than we expected – at one stage we had no plans to see it, so very glad we decided to get to Lima and onto Cuzco – it was mind-blowing. Having no plan saw us leave South America to meet up with friends in SE Asia, Jamie and Lisa in Vietnam, our little holiday within our trip – Vietnam was such a beautiful country and travelling by train, north to south we pretty much saw all of it and so want to go back.
Whilst Phnom Phen wasn’t for us, the rest of Cambodia was – seeing the small river town of Kampot was a highlight with many drunken nights spent in the Rusty Keyhole, drinking cold beers and enjoying great food to meeting up with our friends Dave and Katie, en route to London having been to a wedding in Australia. Seeing Angkor Wat with them both – we couldn’t have hoped for two better intrepid explorers!
Thailand was everything we though it wasn’t – we were both expecting Bangkok to be a little bit like Old Delhi, ramshackle and broken, dirty and not really for us so imagine our surprise to see multiple high-rise office blocks on a par with New York – an incredible metropolis though it the places outside of Bangkok we truly enjoyed – visiting the Islands and being able to climb in Krabi, a longish term ambition of mine. To visiting the north, making friends in Chiang Mai and our nights inside Pinkys – a fine watering hole with some great characters though none more than Fon and Graeme – unfortunately the photo I have of Graeme is long deleted though the image has been burned into my memory!
Then there was India and our being spoilt rotten by Ram Mama and Madhu Mami, both of whom gave up their bed and fed us plenty of home cooked food, which after being on the road for so long was very welcome. Rather than visit the same places we opted to see more of the north and the foothills of the Himalayas. Having now been to Leh I can categorically say that this is my favourite place in India – riding our Enfield in the mountains, riding over the first and third highest motorable passes was a real highlight. Seeing Goa in a monsoon (and meeting our friend Tony from Chiang Mai, randomly paying for something in a supermarket) and for me bathing in Ganga Mata in Varanasi, for no other reason than, why not!
We’re now in Greece, have been for about two or so weeks – relaxing before we head back to London and finding somewhere to live, rebuilding our careers and planning the next stage of our lives with memories of this year shaping our future. It’s been a wonderful adventure and I couldn’t have had a better person to travel with, be with and to share all these wonderful times with than my wife and co-pilot Shelley, none of this would have been possible nor as much fun with out her – it’s been a blast babes x
Posted in Brazil, Buenos Aires, Cambodia, Delhi, Greece, India, London, Peru, South East Asia, Tango, Thailand, Vietnam | Tagged: angkor wat, Argentina, cambodia, Cargo Ship, chaing mai, goa, Grande Francia, greece, india, kampot, ladakh, leh, machu picchu, moto guzzi, peru, pinkys, rusty keyhole, shelleytravel, stelvio2stelvio, thailand, vietnam | 16 Comments »
Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on May 21, 2011
Having the opportunity of sharing a taxi (and therefore cheaper) sadly, we left Kampot yesterday to begin our journey north with our initial plan being to overnight in Phnom Penh before setting off for Siem Reap the next day. As we arrived in Phnom Penh Shelley suggested we check with the bus company to see if we could get an overnight bus that night rather than waiting to do the same journey the next day.
We got one – it left from the night-market just after midnight which meant we had a few hours to kill which we did by going for dinner (Frog-legs fried in ginger and garlic, superb) and several games of pool near the bus-stop. Amusingly, there were several young ladies in said bar all of whom were pool sharks and were very adept at ‘knocking’ guys off the table!
Joining the bus, we were the only ‘travellers’ aboard – apparently many travel sites advise against taking the night bus anywhere though we had no issues, apart from the locking mechanism on my seat not working though using gravity and leaning back, I was fine! It was a sweat box mind – 3o odd passengers suffering dodgy air-con and plastic seats certainly added to the aroma though the on-board toilet was the worst, after an hour into the journey it was stinking. Located on the lower deck (you have to crouch through to reach it) the door of said toilet states ‘…Piss only please…’ some comedian had also removed the light and what with the bus bouncing all over the road you literally had to wedge yourself in, if possible gaining 10 points of contacts before taking a wazz. Alas, as soon as you started the bus would hit a bump and you’d end up pissing all over the toilet, yourself and the walls!
Pulling into the bus station a little after 5am, we grabbed a tuk-tuk to our hotel – the Angkor Pearl Hotel, thankfully they put us into a spare room, they obviously recognised the ‘smell of bus’ and were keen to get us out the way before breakfast and other guests thinking they were staying with the homeless!
Posted in Cambodia, South East Asia | Tagged: angkor pearl hotel, angkor wat, Bus, kampot, phnom penh, pool shark, siem reap | 2 Comments »
Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on May 17, 2011
Four days in Phnom Penh is enough for anyone, too many people hassling you, all auto-tuktuks are $3US regardless of whether you’re going around the corner or 2km down the road, the drinks were expensive and we found very few places for good food.
We had to get out and fast.
We’d been told about a sleepy little town, 160km south west of the city though we were in two minds whether to head south as we hook up with VD and Katie in about a week though this is in Siem Reap, about 6 hours north of Phnom Penh!
We decided to go for it!
We’re so pleased we made the effort to get here – Kampot is the perfect place to get away from the city. Everything we’ve heard is true. It really is sleepy, the people are very friendly and we’re yet to be hassled. There’s a couple of very relaxed bars along the river – the Rusty Keyhole is one such bar, we were in there drinking rum with the owner and a guy we’d met a few days previous in Phnom Penh – we got the lowdown on the town and had a great night. The Rusty Keyhole is famous for its pork ribs – they’re really good, we were ‘advised’ to go for the Dino – a full KG, it was too much!
Kampot is also famous for it’s pepper (and less so it’s salt) which is regarded as the best in the World and has recently been granted a ‘Protected Graphical Indication’ or PGI – we’ve tried it, it’s peppery and full of flavour(!) we’ll be bringing some back with us.
We’ve hired a little scooter so that we can spend the next few days seeing the countryside which is stunning and we’re just back from having lunch in Kep – there’s a great crab market there (Kep is famous for its crabs) and it’s even more sleepy than Kampot, this whole province is very chilled.
On the way to Kep we took a small detour as we’d been told about some caves that were worth seeing, inside was also a Buddhist shrine – the original temple was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. We were advised to follow a dirt-track for about 10kms and once some kids start chasing you on their pushbikes, you’ve arrived! Bartering with kids for a guided tour (we didn’t feel that we needed them but they were cheeky and at the end of the day, what’s a dollar?) they took us into the caves.
Initially I wasn’t that impressed but then we were shown a narrow tunnel which involved crawling through, almost on our bellies into a big cavern – we carried on in this vein for a good twenty minutes, up and down, squeezing through narrow walls, it really was fun and pleased we had the guys with us to show us all of this, it was well worth the few dollars we’d paid.
There’s really not a great deal to do other than take it easy – we’re thinking of visiting Bokor Mountain as there’s a deserted colonial French resort atop the hill which has been empty since 1972 though soon to be ‘redeveloped,’ hopefully we can get up there to check it out.
Posted in Cambodia, South East Asia | Tagged: angkor wat, bokor mountain, buddhist temple, cambodia, caves, kampot, kampot pepper, kep, khmer rouge, pgi, phnom penh, Protected Graphical Indication, ribs, salt-n-pepa, scooter, siem reap, the rusty keyhole | 5 Comments »